REVIEW: BAT OUT OF HELL – THE MUSICAL (London Coliseum) ★★★★
Forty years after it originally shook the world, Jim Steinman’s album (made famous by Meatloaf) gets the Musical/Rock Opera treatment it was originally intended for. Following a lot of controversy, there was much anticipation as to whether it would stay true to its filthy roots, or sell out and become a frothy mix of nonsense.
The story follows ‘Strat’ (Andrew Polec) and the “Lost”, a group of non ageing mutant teenage delinquents who roam the streets of post apocalyptic Manhattan now called Obsidian in the year 2100. The City is ruled with an iron fist by the “Commander-in-Chief” ‘Falco’ (played to perfection by Rob Fowler), whilst his blossoming daughter ‘Raven’ (Christina Bennington) sits idly in his looming skyscraper, strangely reminiscent of a certain US president’s tower. What ensues is a boy meets girl, hormone fuelled, grime fest with hints toward J.M. Barries’ classic story (kind of like ‘Peter Pan’ meets ‘Mad Max’).
The show is an absolute spectacle with the huge set more than filling the giant stage of the Coliseum. There were points when I simply couldn’t figure out how they managed to do some of the things I was watching. At one point a to scale car was pushed into the pit bursting into flames and smoke, after which some of the band members clambered out cursing! As well as this, there were also cameramen filming the events in a documentary style as it was played out to the audience live. The production values were simply astounding.
To single out a single cast member over another would be extremely difficult as every voice was sensational. Not a note missed, not a beat dropped and not forgetting these are some of the most difficult songs to sing. I do have to mention Danielle Steers as the formidable ‘Zahara’ who somewhat stole the show with her sass and her husky voice.
If I had qualms with the production it would have to be with Emma Portner’s strange and uninviting choreography, where every piece was just the ensemble standing in lines and doing a few tricks. I feel the same effect could have been achieved by a baby ballet teacher from Harrow. The script was also pretty dire to those who are not die hard fans of Steinman’s work, slowing the pace of the piece down at points.
No, it didn’t make any sense, but did it matter? Absolutely not! With incredible music and the sheer size and spectacle of it all, this is a show that will bring your spirit up and your jaw down to the floor. If ‘We Will Rock You’ took Acid and got a lower back tattoo, this would be the result.
Reviewed by Jimmy Richards
Bat Out Of Hell – The Musical is playing at the London Coliseum until 22 August 2017. Book tickets